Emperor Takakura

Emperor of Japan

Emperor Takakura, Tenshi Sekkan Miei
Reign 1168–1180
Predecessor Rokujū
Successor Antoku
Born September 20, 1161
Died January 30, 1181 (aged 19)
Burial Nochi no Seikanū-ji no Misasagi (Kyoto)

Emperor Takakura (高倉天皇 Takakura-tennō) (September 20, 1161 – January 30, 1181) was the 80th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1168 through 1180.[1]


Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name (his imina)[2] was Norihito-shinnō (憲仁親王).[3] He was also known as Nobuhito-shinnō.[4]

Takakura was the fourth son of Emperor Go-Shirakawa, and thus uncle to his predecessor, Emperor Rokujō. His mother was Empress Dowager Taira no Shigeko, the younger sister of Taira no Tokiko, the wife of Taira no Kiyomori. His empress consort was Taira no Tokuko (later Empress Dowager Kenrei), the daughter of Taira no Kiyomori, and thus his first cousin (as his mother and Tokuko's mothers were sisters).

Events of Takakura's life

Although Takakura was formally enthroned, the reality was that government affairs were controlled by his father and his father-in-law.

Takakura had his own views on the role of Emperor. He is said to have written:

"The Emperor is a ship. His subjects are water. The water enables a ship to float well, but sometimes the vessel is capsized by it. His subjects can sustain an Emperor well, but sometimes they overthrow him."[7]

Ex-Emperor Shirakawa II exercised the powers attendant the well-settled patterns of cloistered rule. Taira no Kiyomori, who was the father of the Empress, did whatever he pleased as de facto Regent.

Only extant letter by Emperor Takakura

Soon after the birth of Emperor Takakura's son, Prince Tokihito, he was pressured to abdicate. The one-year-old infant would become Emperor Antoku.


Kugyō (公卿) is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan in pre-Meiji eras.

In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were hereditary courtiers whose experience and background would have brought them to the pinnacle of a life's career. During Takakura's reign, this apex of the Daijō-kan included:

Eras of Takakura's reign

The years of Takakura's reign are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[15]

See also


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, pp. 195–200; Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, pp. 330–333; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki. pp. 212–214.
  2. Brown, pp. 264; n.b., up until the time of Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors (their imina) were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign.
  3. Titsingh, p. 195; Varley, p. 212.
  4. Brown, p. 329.
  5. Brown, p. 330; Varley, p. 44; n.b., a distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Emperor Go-Murakami.
  6. Titsingh, p. 195; Varley, p. 44.
  7. Kitagawa, Hiroshi et al. (1975). The Tale of the Heike, p. 220.
  8. Kitagawa, p. 783.
  9. Titsingh, p. 198.
  10. Titsingh, p. 199.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Kitagawa, p. 784.
  12. Kamo no Chōmei. (1212). Hōjōki.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Brown, p. 331.
  14. Brown, p. 332.
  15. Titsingh, p. 195; Brown, pp. 330–331.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Rokujō
Emperor of Japan:

Succeeded by
Emperor Antoku
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